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My gardening experience has deep roots. My siblings and I started our nursery endeavors when we were just little sprouts, so to speak. I began watering plants at Santa Venetia Nursery at age five, as part of my chores. This is before he bought the Cove Nursery in Belvedere and changed the names to Tanem's Garden Centers. By age 12, I was finding plants for customers and worked the cash register during our busy sales’ days. My dad, Bob, and brother Bill were most knowledgeable about the plants, landscaping and chemicals, so they did all the one on one with the customers. In lieu of learning the Latin names for plants, my sister Kathy and I were busy studying dance and gymnastics.
In the 1980’s I was attending San Francisco State University, while also working at the Conservatory of Flowers and the San Francisco Zoo as a ticket seller. In 1984, Dad’s business was doing very well, so he bought a second nursery in Belvedere. I segued from my academic path straight into working for my Dad at his nurseries and I absorbed much of his expansive knowledge about the gardening industry by working alongside him.
In 1998 my dad sold his two nurseries so that he could retire and travel with mom. Dad launched his radio career talking about gardening as an occasional guest on KGO in 1980 and continued on KSFO for a combined total of 42 years on the air. I further immersed myself in the business by listening to the shows and the good advice he offered callers, with his characteristic good humor and infectious laughter (which some listeners say I’ve inherited from him.)
When I worked at the Belvedere nursery, I loved listening to his show live on the air on Sunday mornings. It was so much fun to hear my dad answer the callers’ questions as America’s Happy Gardener. I substituted for him as the host during the show when he and Mom would go on vacations to Europe or one of the Garden Writer Symposiums. Dad would even call in to the radio show to answer some of the questions himself, even while he was away. Hosting the show in his absence was my first taste of the radio business and I was happy to fill in for Dad.
As I continued to gain knowledge and experience, I began to volunteer and become a board member, treasurer, bulletin editor, vice president, and president of the Redwood Empire Chapter of the Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers. It was part of a state wide Association and I made a lot of knowledgeable friends in the business over the course of almost 30 years, which has contributed to my knowledge base for the show. I also did my fathers newsletters starting in 1992 and continued managing his subscription newsletter for 10 years. There is always more to know and I have a lot of different passionate directions in gardening and I hope to share all of them with KSFO listeners.